Hot Springs, Arkansas
I decided to go to Hot Springs, Arkansas because it is home to a National Park and it seemed to be the most interesting thing between Memphis and the people I wanted to visit in Oklahoma and Texas. I was also planning to camp for the first time on my trip and knew that there should be some campsites around the park. I had never heard of this park before, but to be honest, may have heard things about Arkansas in general, I just hadn’t made the effort to try and remember them. It didn’t seem like a place I would have on my “to visit” list but I am very happy to have gone there.
Finding a campsite wasn’t hard. I looked online ahead of time and made a few calls the day I was to arrive. I chose a place from online reviews, pictures, and amenities for the price. I settled for a place that seemed to be “in-town”, had hot water showers and was fairly cheap. After all, I am tent camping so the electric and water hook-ups aren’t that important to choosing a location.
The campsite I chose once arriving in Hot Springs seemed to be more of a permanent location for the current occupants. Many trailers had wooden front porches built onto them and didn’t seem to be hitting the road again anytime soon. The campsite host I had made the reservations with took quite a few reminders that I was just a tent camper, and after a couple of phone calls told me he had some errands to run and wouldn’t be there when I arrived. My instructions were to “drive beyond the cabin, down the hill, and look for the orange cone” he would leave to mark the spot he was saving for me.
The location looked ideal at first but was less than in the end. It sat on a little peninsula of land on a creek leading to the Ouachita River. Thankfully, I didn’t see the water moccasin being chased in this water by a mother duck until after a night of rest. It was also not a very quiet place with the interstate being a short distance away; even though it was hidden from sight, I could hear trucks passing all night long. I was across the water from several houses and at a couple of points felt like I was camping in someone's backyard. Because it was a place for mostly RVs they also had no restrictions on generators running. It was still slightly warm, though nice in a tent, but everyone ran their generators all night long to avoid the humidity of all that fresh air.
I had told the campsite host I may stay one extra night but decided to pack up very early and head to another site. I found a KOA and took a drive to check it out in person before calling and arranging my stay. It didn’t seem like anything was booked up so I had that luxury. I found it to be a nice location, although it was also close to the interstate and a little further from town. I booked it after picking out the site farthest from the road. There were other tent campers and my neighbors were a nice couple from Ohio traveling on their motorcycle.
Things to consider when car camping: get as far away from the highway as possible; make sure you have some privacy; choose generator-free neighbors or tent-only areas; an electric outlet is a plus; make sure the sun and wind are on your side; you’ll need stakes or rocks; know what kind of wildlife like bears or raccoons might be in the area and know how to store food; showers with hot water (paid showers are okay but free is better) and of course, laundry.
I took the time to read up on the area and discovered that there was quite an interesting history to the park, the town and why it became a National Park. I will let the pictures and captions tell you the story of Hot Springs National Park and the town of Hot Springs Arkansas.